The common ash tree (fraxinus excelsior) is a widely occurring broadleaved species and can grow to be very large, 20 - 30m tall with a very wide spread. Older trees have a greyish brown bark with deep cracks. 

Large ash

 Younger trees have a silvery, grey stem.

Young ash

The trees are one of the last to come into leaf in the spring and amongst the first to lose their leaves.  The buds are a very distinctive black, with flowers which appear in April near the tips of the twigs. 

ash buds

The  sex of the plant is very complicated. You can read all about it in Eva Wallanders' Phd!

The leaves are pinnate, a central stem with 9 - 13 leaflets. 


Further reading:

Silviculture of Broadleaved woodland

J Evans

FC bulletin 62

(all photos used with permission from Malvern coppicing,  treeblog and

Comments on this article

David Hooper 25 April, 2011

I've planted a small wood and hope to coppice it in due course. How do you decide when to do this? Should you cut it young to encourage new growth? I've felled one or two teenage trees and they have not resprouted at the bottom.

Tracy 4 May, 2011

Hi David
What kind of trees have you planted? When we know that I can find someone to help you.
Has anything been eating the new growth on the trees that you cut, or have they just not grown?

janz 4 March, 2012

It may be helpful to add to each tree description how and when to plant, how and when to coppice

janz 4 March, 2012

what is the best willow for firewood?

Im looking for something that grows fast -say something that can be harvested every 2 years with decent width (4" diameter)

I had something once sprout in my garden from a bird dropping that grew about 3 metres per year and some of its many uprights got to 8" diameter - if only I had it now I would plant that - some form of willow I think

lara 19 October, 2012

hi, I have also had trees appearing from nowhere in our field, they grow extremely quickly and coppice well. they seam to be pussy willow (goat willow) which also makes good firewood, often found growing wild along disused railway lines and riverbanks.
If you find a tree growing wild cut off a few branches approx 1.5 cm diameter and push them deep into the soil where you want them to grow. like all willows they will root within a few months and will grow quickly to make the trees which you need for firewood. hope this helps.

Tom 8 September, 2014

In thick grassland you may want to put some mulch around the willow cuttings until they have established

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